Nicholas Tse, star of the recent hit film “Raging Fire,” says he has applied to renounce his Canadian citizenship and will embrace the People’s Republic of China instead. The move comes as Chinese authorities mount crackdowns on the entertainment industry and on dual citizenship.
The singer-actor-celebrity chef made the announcement during an interview on Sunday on CCTV, China’s state broadcaster. He added that he hoped to promote Chinese culture from gourmet food to music and film around the world.
Tse was born in Hong Kong, but moved at a young age to Canada with his family. There he was able to obtain a Canadian passport, giving him dual Hong Kong and Canadian citizenship.
His acting career took off through Hong Kong films including “Gen-X Cops” and “New Police Story.” He was also the titular presenter of several seasons of Fox Networks Group’s culinary travelogue “Chef Nic.”
In recent years, most major Hong Kong movies have been co-financed with partners from the PRC, and have become increasingly targeted at the vastly larger mainland audiences. As of late August, “Raging Fire” had earned $2.1 million in Hong Kong and by Sept. 5 had amassed $176 million in mainland cinemas.
The People’s Republic has complex laws on nationality that are largely based on race and ethnicity. It does not permit its own citizens to obtain dual nationality and does not allow foreigners to retain their other citizenship if they apply to become Chinese.
Chinese authorities are currently cracking down on many aspects of the entertainment industry and fan culture, which the government regards as having become chaotic.
High-profile stars have been given hefty punishments in order to set an example to others. Actor Vicki Zhao Wei has seen her presence scrubbed from the Chinese internet and her name removed from the credits of past films and TV shows. Tse is in a long-term relationship with Hong Kong singer-actor Faye Wong, who is a close friend of Zhao.
In recent weeks there have been rumors that celebrities with foreign nationalities are to be blacklisted.
Chinese media has been at pains to describe Kris Wu, the superstar actor and former K-pop star who was recently arrested following rape allegations, as Canadian. He was born in mainland China, but spent his teens in Vancouver, Canada.
Major stars in China with foreign passports include Gong Li and Jet Li, who have both taken Singaporean citizenship and “Mulan” star Crystal Liu Yifei and director Chen Kaige who both have U.S. passports.
Arthur Chen Feiyu, son of Chen Kaige, announced on social media this year that he had renounced his U.S. citizenship.
Tse’s talent management company Emperor Entertainment Group said it only learned about Tse’s decision from the TV interview. The company respected Tse’s personal decision, it said.
The news of Tse’s decision to renounce his Canadian citizenship has had Chinese netizens divided. Some applauded his move. But other criticized him for being “two-faced,” and giving up his foreign citizenship in order to make money in China.
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